Category Archives: Bedtime Stories
Bedtime Stories: Space Operas!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix.
As long as there are no dragons, I tend to enjoy young adult/teen fantasy. Science fiction is, generally speaking, a different story. I discovered Douglas Adams in my middle school years and he has always been the exception to my disinterest in sci-fi. But you know how there are some authors who could write a phone book and it would be amazing? That’s kind of how I feel about Garth Nix. Although mostly a YA/teen fantasy novelist, he has breached the sci-fi genre with his most recent novel, A Confusion of Princes. I figured, what the heck, I’d give it a try despite the obvious science fiction overtones. Note: I just learned that technically, it’s a “space opera”, whatever that is.
Here’s my takeaway: it was good enough to read all the way through. Nix has a way of creating imaginative worlds that don’t come across as silly and contrived. Sometimes I open a book and see all the names are Llethywynn and Glêmrax and I just close it straight away, because it’s silly! This one isn’t overly serious or overly silly. It’s intriguing, exciting, fun. My only criticism would be that 75% of the way through the book, I was sure it would lead to a sequel, but instead he just wraps it up very, very rapidly and I was left thinking: huh. I guess it’s over, then. Other than that, totally fun and will give you some interesting dreams.
Bedtime Stories: June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Holly Evans amazes her classmates with the most ambitious science project imaginable. She planted vegetable seeds and then floated them on giant weather balloons out into space, as an experiment to see what the effects of space would be on them.
Several weeks later, enormous vegetable begin to fall from the sky. Giant red peppers the size of hot air balloons, green beans fifty feet long! Holly is beside herself. Who would have guessed that her vegetables would grow to such a gargantuan size? Over the next weeks, more and more vegetables descend. Asparagus, radishes, lettuce. But…those weren’t vegetables she had sent into space! If these didn’t come from her, where did they come from?
For a short picture book, David Wiesner manages to tell a very exciting and mysterious story. His illustrations are, as always, beautiful and detailed. Even if there isn’t a literate soul in sight, the story is easily told through the images.
Bedtime Stories: Stinky John and Stinky Skunk (or: made-up tales)
Post by Mark T. Locker
Sometimes you just run out of books to read. Sometimes you just can’t read THAT book one. more. time. Sometimes everyone is sick of every book in the house. And sometimes there just aren’t enough stories in the world to satisfy a hungry mind. I think a combination of these led to the creation of a new set of characters in the shadows of my son’s bedroom on Saturday night. The stories themselves are, needless to say, not remarkable. A fellow named John is stinky and loves stinky things: rotten onions, old socks, you name it. When he meets Stinky Skunk, their shared appreciation creates a new dynamic duo! I was going for the laugh factor here, and with a four-year-old, stinkiness is pretty low-hanging fruit.
My point here is more about the process. It’s sometimes utterly painful to try and make up a story off the top of one’s head. But the payoff is enormous. Letting my son input details into the story, like what kind of stinky stuff they like, or telling me what they find in a bush makes it much more fun. And he isn’t the world’s greatest literary critic, but seeing his eyes light up as I weave a silly, spooky adventure makes it all worthwhile.
So go tell a stupid made-up story to your kid or loved one today!
Bedtime Stories: The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.
Keith is an only child on a road trip with his parents. His prized belonging, which he has carried with him all over the place, is his collection of toy cars and, especially, his toy motorcycle.
Ralph is a young mouse living in a knothole at a hotel with his family. When Keith moves in to Ralph’s room, Ralph cannot help but admire the shiny chrome motorcycle which is just the right size for a mouse. Unfortunately, during a surreptitious test drive, Ralph gets startled and tumbles, cycle and all, into the garbage can. When the boy discovers Ralph, he is sure that’s the end of him but what do you know? Keith is actually super nice! He even shows Ralph how to make the motorcycle drive! Thus begins the friendship and adventures in Beverly Cleary’s classic story.
I began reading this to my son a week ago, partly because he will be attending the Beverly Cleary elementary school next year. It’s a great book to read out loud to kids: nice short chapters and nothing too complex going on. I love coming to the end of a chapter and hearing: “Can we read just one more chapter, please??” Music to a librarian’s/father’s ears.
Bedtime Stories: Mythical Beasts
Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters by DK Publishing.
What better image to carry off with you into your dreams than that of a witch’s house running around on chicken legs? Or the picture of human skin falling to the floor as the werewolf emerges? Maybe not everyone prefers these as their parting shots from consciousness, but I know one kid who is more than happy to.
To be fair, not every story in here is scary or creepy. There are stories about Ananzi the spider, of African lore, or Native American tales of the Thunderbird which was, incidentally, my high school mascot.
There are stories about tricksters from all corners of the globe, tales of the underworld, heaven, and everything in between. If you dig the Greeks, you’ll find them here as well. Aztecs more your thing? Look no further! Full of original illustrations as well as historic art from around the world, this is a great introduction to mythical creatures as well as stories of quests and battles.
Now some of this book is rather creepy, so if you are not into spooky stuff, you may want to put this away until you are a little bit older. But if you like a little shiver, then by all means pick this one up!